This paper presents a technical approach to building
flexible groupware applications. Flexibility provides the promise of
personalizable groupware, allowing different groups to work with the
system in diverse ways which best suit the group's own needs. An
implementation technique called open protocols is described, which is
a variation of client/server architectures. Open protocols facilitate the
addition of group-specific modules long after the system has been created.
Three examples illustrating the use of open protocols are presented: floor
control, conference registration, and brainstorming. Finally, a number of
issues facing the groupware developer using open protocols are addressed,
along with strategies that can help in dealing with these issues.
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